What financial support is available?
If you’re struggling to work because you have arthritis, you may be able to claim government benefits or get help through financial support schemes.
You may also be entitled to financial support if your condition is making it difficult to do everyday tasks such as getting about or caring for yourself, and this is causing you extra living expenses.
These benefits and schemes are available across the UK but may be managed differently within each of the four nations.
Help with NHS costs
Prescriptions are free in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, but not in England.
If you live in England, you may be able to get help paying for prescriptions, depending on the type of benefit you receive or your health condition. You may also be able to get help towards paying some other NHS costs, such as for dental care, hospital travel fares, and eyecare.
Universal Credit is a means-tested benefit. Payments will depend on your personal circumstances, income and savings.
It is currently being rolled out across the UK to replace:
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
- Income Support
- income-based Jobseekers allowance (JSA)
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Working Tax Credit.
If you’re making a new claim or need to make changes to an existing claim for one of these benefits, you will now be given a Universal Credit account instead.
It takes about five weeks to set up a Universal Credit account. If you think you’ll struggle financially while you’re waiting you may be able to get a Universal Credit Advance loan. You’ll need to repay this loan in instalments from future Universal Credit payments.
You may be able to get help with health costs if you’re receiving Universal Credit.
If you live in Northern Ireland you can find more information about Universal Credit on the nidirect website.
The following organisations offer advice about Universal Credit:
The national State Pension age is the age you can start claiming pension payments from the government. Historically women have reached State Pension age before men. However, this is set to change with the introduction of a single State Pension age for all.
Your pension payments will depend on how much National Insurance you’ve paid during your working life. You can check your current pension status on the gov.uk website.
If you’ve reached State Pension age and you’re living on a low income, have a severe disability, or care for another person, you may be able to claim more financial assistance through Pension Credits.
Pension Credits can help with daily living costs, as well as housing costs such as ground rent and service charges. It can also entitle you to more reduced costs for things such as Council Tax, heating and NHS services.
The Turn2Us website has advice on how to apply for additional Pension Credits.
You can find more information about how the State Pension and Pension Credits in Northern Ireland work by visiting the nidirect website.
Attendance Allowance is a benefit for people who have reached State Pension age and have a health condition, who need extra help to stay independent.
If you live in Northern Ireland, the nidirect website has information about Attendance Allowance.
Personal Independence Payment
If your condition has made daily life and your ability to get around difficult for at least three months and is expected to continue causing difficulty for a further nine months or more, you may qualify for a Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
There are two elements to PIP - daily living and mobility costs. You may be able to claim one, or both payments, depending on how your condition affects you.
PIP funding for daily living can help pay for the additional aids that make everyday tasks easier, adaptations to your home, or assistance from a support worker.
The mobility element can help if your condition limits your ability to get out and about. For example, you might use it to help lease an adapted vehicle from the Motability Scheme.
PIP is replacing the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for people aged between 16 and 64. You will need an initial assessment and regular reviews to make sure you’re getting the right amount of PIP.
You can find more information about how PIP works in Northern Ireland on the nidirect website.
Disability Living Allowance
The Disability Living Allowance (DLA) can help with extra costs if your child is aged under 16 and has difficulty walking or needs extra help in their daily life.
Anyone aged 16 to 64 will need to apply for PIP, even if they have been awarded a lifetime DLA in the past.
If you live in Northern Ireland, you can find more information about DLA by visiting the nidirect website.
Employment and Support Allowance
If your condition affects your ability to work, you may be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
You can claim ESA while receiving Universal Credit and other benefits such as Personal Independence Payments (PIP), but not while you are receiving Statutory Sick Pay. However, you can start your ESA claim up to three months before your Statutory Sick Pay ends, which can make the switch easier.
If you live in Northern Ireland you can find information about ESA on the nidirect website.
Carer’s Allowance is a taxable benefit available to a person aged over 16, who spends 35 hours a week or more, caring for someone.
People who claim Carer’s Allowance receive National Insurance credits and may be eligible for other benefits and grants because of their caring responsibilities. However, it can affect some benefits received by either the carer or the person they care for.
If you are not eligible to receive this benefit you may still claim Carer’s Credit, which helps with gaps in your National Insurance record.
COVID-19 - benefits advice
You can find more information on the Gov UK website if you’re concerned that COVID-19 might affect your:
If you live in Northern Ireland the nidirect has information about how coronavirus may affect your work or benefits.
You can find more information about what benefits you may be eligible for by visiting Citizens Advice and selecting England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to see the details for where you live.
Access to work
Access to Work is a government grant that can help people start or stay in work if they have a long-term health condition.
If you’re eligible it could help pay for things such as:
- special aids, adaptations or equipment that help you do your work
- travel to and from work if you can’t use public transport
- access to support workers, such as a job coach to help you in your work.
People who are classed as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) are being prioritised for Access to Work support.
For more information visit About Access to Work in England, Scotland or Wales.
If you live in Northern Ireland, the nidirect website has information about the Access to Work scheme.
You may be able to get a loan to pay for things such as furniture, household items, bills, loan repayments, rent, or costs linked to a new job.
There are a number of loans available through your Universal Credit account, which may allow you to borrow against future payments.
If you’re not on Universal Credit or you’re receiving Pension Credit, you may be able to claim a Budgeting Loan.
If you live in Northern Ireland the nidirect website has information about advance payments if you’re receiving Universal Credit and Budgeting loans.
Additional support to help with living costs
If you’re on a low income or receiving certain benefits you may be able to get help with bills, daily living and travel expenses, such as:
- reduced train fares using a Disabled Persons Railcard, in Great Britain, or a SmartPass in Northern Ireland
- free or reduced travel on buses with a Disable Person’s Bus Pass in Great Britain, or SmartPass in Northern Ireland
- if you can’t walk far you can park in some restricted areas using the Blue Badge Parking Scheme in Great Britain, and Northern Ireland
- reduced phone and internet costs through BT Basic, or KCOM Flex packages if you live in East Riding or Hull
- Cold Weather Payment if the temperature in your area drops to zero degrees or below, for seven days in a row between November and April
- Disabled Facilities Grants if you have to make changes to your home because of your condition
- Discretionary Housing Payments if your council decides you need extra help with housing costs
- Energy Company Obligation (ECO) Affordable Warmth from your energy provider to help reduce heating costs and repairs to your boiler
- lower council tax bills with a Council Tax Reduction in Great Britain, or Rate Relief or a Rate Rebate in Northern Ireland
- lower water bills through WaterSure in England and Wales.
Help if you need to make changes to your home
If your condition makes it difficult to carry out daily activities or to get around your home, your local authority adaptation service may be able to help.
They can often provide aids, such as electric can openers or mattress toppers. They can make adaptations to your home, which may include fitting handrails and ramps. This service may be provided for free, depending on your level of need.
In England and Wales you can find your local authority’s home adaptations service by entering your postcode on the gov.uk website.
For information on the support available for aids and adaptations in Scotland and Northern Ireland visit the following websites:
You can find more information about gadgets and equipment on our Gadgets and equipment for your home page.